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Does Doping Affect The eSports Community?

Drug use in eSports doesn’t seem to be as shocking to most people as I think it should. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate our goals as an industry.

In the interview below, while Semphis was speaking about the previous ESEA LAN that he attended with cloud9, he stated “we were all on Adderall”.

Semphis was recently released from cloud9 following a string of poor performances by the team after the departure of Hiko (Spencer Martin). The interviewer followed up by saying, “Everyone does Adderall at ESEA LAN, right? Just throwing that out there, for the fans. That’s how you get good.” The interviewer was smiling when he said this, so he may have been trolling, but there was no corrective action or statements about it afterward.

What is Adderall? Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, a “smart drug” that’s normally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It helps the user concentrate, reduces fatigue and can also boost reaction times. Unsurprisingly, it’s a popular choice for students cramming for exams. It’s also been used by traditional athletes, and is mostly banned by the NFL, MLB and NHL.

How do I personally feel about this? I am not a fan of drug use of any sort, let alone using drugs to enhance your performance. Personal feelings aside, I think that it has the potential to seriously affect the growth of the sport from a business standpoint.

My biggest frustration about this is that we spend a lot of time trying to build the community, and that means bringing in newer and younger players. As they enter the competitive scene, learning the game and idolizing these professional players, do we really want them looking to players that are taking these drugs and emulating them? I would hope that we, as a community, want to set the bar higher than having to use drugs to reach those levels. Wouldn’t we want them — and the community as a whole — to try and obtain it naturally through hard work and training? We expect that of professional athletes in physical sports.

A good example is hockey player Nicklas Bäckström. Bäckström missed the gold medal game in the 2014 Sochi Olympics because he tested positive for ephedrine. His source? Cold medication. I am not saying that the eSports community needs to go that far, but we need to do something.

Rumours of, and the admittance of, drug use at the highest levels of the sport can only serve to stand in the way of both current and future sponsorships from major corporations. Those sponsorships are what will allow eSports to be seen by the general populace as a viable and pursuable career option, and what will allow people stop looking at the eSports community as a bunch of kids that are too afraid to move out of the basement.

Now, I know that drug use is not rampant. It’s not like every player in North America competing at a premier or professional level is pounding performance-enhancers. What I am saying is that the governing bodies need to come together and decide how to deal with this. We can’t have the people that are representing our games, our sports and our industry be taking performance-enhancing drugs. This does nothing but illegitimize all of the work that is done in front of and behind to help our industry grow.

My soapbox is nearly worn out, so I will finish with this. I want people to compete at an equal level, no drugs, no cheating, no bullshit. Don’t ruin something that has the potential to grow into a monstrous market by doping up. If there are any young or up and coming players out there reading this… Don’t do it. There isn’t a reason in the universe that makes taking medications when you don’t need them good for your game, in the long run.

Put in the time, train, and be a good teammate. In the end, you’ll be better for it.

David Alberto is a Contributing Editor for You can often find him making people cry in Counter-Strike. Roll percentile dice to see if his opinions change, your chances are slim.

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